Getting Things Done – A.P. Miller’s Favorite Productivity Tools

A few weeks ago, I blogged that I wanted you to know that I suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). I did that to bring awareness to the affliction, but hopefully so that people would understand why I’m so scatterbrained sometimes. Despite having ADD, I manage my daily life just fine, it just requires a little more effort on my part. For this week’s blog, I wanted to share some of my favorite tools that I use to keep myself on task.

No. 1 – A Bullet Journal – Such a simple innovation — an analog to-do list that I use to keep track of my personal life & my writing career. Keeping a small notebook & a pen with me, and using a system to collect information on the fly has truly been a blessing. I can’t do nearly the justice than the guy who created it can. Check out the video below:

No. 2 – A TXT Document – It behooves me to keep work stuff out of my personal bullet journal. It creates less anxiety to not have to see work stuff when I’m away from my day job and the company doesn’t want me to have proprietary information on a personal resource. On my desktop at work, I keep .txt files for each month as a to-do list. I’ve formatted mine to look like a Symian Log (radio jargon). It pretty much looks like this:

JULY 29, 2018

-Call & wish my sister a happy birthday
-Schedule oil change

When I’ve completed a task, I change the – sign to a + sign.

JULY 29, 2018

+Call & wish my sister a happy birthday
+Schedule an oil change

WARNING: It’s important to save every change you make when you tick off an item — if your computer shuts down or the power goes out, you’ll lose any items that you’ve completed or have recently added.

No. 3 – Gmail App – Productivity experts around the world will tell you the importance of “Inbox Zero,” or having absolutely nothing in your inbox when you are done for the day. If I’m out in the field, or have something that I need to remember for work, I’ll send myself an email. When I get back to my desk, I have a task in my inbox to complete and things are much less likely to get missed if I notice something in the field. It’s a small habit that has proven effective lately.

No. 4 – A Pomodoro Timer – Pomodoro is Italian for “Tomato.” The innovator of the Pomodoro technique used a timer that was shaped like a tomato, hence the name. The practice is simple and you can use the timer on your cell phone or kitchen, it doesn’t need to be anything special. You set the timer for twenty-five minutes and then you get cracking on whatever task it at hand without distraction. After that twenty-five minute work session, set the timer for a five minute break, and then another twenty-five minute work interval.

The schedule goes:

  • 25 Minutes – Work
  • 5 Minutes – Break
  • 25 Minutes – Work
  • 5 Minutes – Work
  • 25 Minutes – Work
  • 5 Minutes – Break
  • 25 Minutes – Work
  • 15 Minutes – Break

Learn more about the Pomodoro technique here.

No. 5 – A Checkbox – I’m being completely serious when I say that this one is the biggest game changer I’ve found when experimenting keeping myself together: a simple checkbox. [ ]. Yes, a square. When I’m on the phone or in a meeting, when I don’t have access to my text document or my bullet journal and I’m taking notes, I can make a little box. That little box is a visual reminder that something needs to be done — the hyper part of my brain that wants everything to be complete and tidied up won’t let me look past that checkbox; I’ve identified something to be done and I am compelled to do it. I also use blue pens for the box and orange pens for the checkmark; I don’t know how that is important to the action, visually appealing I guess.

No. 6 – Automation – The more things that I can put on auto-pilot, the more effective I am using the limited attention span that I’ve been blessed with. Automation is as easy as setting a recurring reminder in my email (appointments or task list); when I’m super motivated to write blogs, I’ll write three or four in a clip, and schedule them to post automatically from my website to my social media platforms (effectively creating less work). I really enjoy setting my coffee maker to brew coffee automatically — essentially, I am trying to do something once and have my tools at hand repeat the action without me having to actively do anything.

I think that there is a discussion to be had here — did any of my suggestions help you? Do you have one that might help me? Send me a message, a tweet, an email, and we’ll see you next week!

Recommended Reading:

  1. “Getting Things Done” – David Allen
  2. “Unbeatable Mind” – Mark Devine
  3. “Stealing Fire” – Stephen Kotler & Jamie Wheal

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